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The 25 Best A&Rs in Hip-Hop History

3. Diddy

Title(s): Founder of Bad Boy Records
Artists They Worked With: The Notorious B.I.G., Ma$e, Shyne, The LOX

He may not be the “best” rap A&R man of all time. But Sean “Diddy” Combs is undoubtedly the most famous.Combs did not sign Mary J. Blige and Jodeci—who became his first industry calling cards. But he inherited them and imparted to them his inimitable style.

It’s incontestably in Combs’ eternal credit that he championed Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G., a Brooklyn MC who came to his attention by way of two other “MC’s”: Matteo “Matty C’ Capoluongo and Mister Cee.

Combs launched his own label in 1994 with the one-two punch of Big and Craig Mack. He repeated and reaffirmed his R&B diva credentials with Faith Evans’s superb debut in 1995. While some of his signings remained creatures of their own particular time-and-space: Ma$e and 112 — other acts proved to have greater cultural legs—The L.O.X.

But it’s not surprising, given Combs’ lifetime M.O. of self-promotion, that his greatest and most enduring career has been his own, as recording artist, professional A&R, clothier, and huckster. Long after you’ve forgotten Danity Kane and Da Band, Diddy will likely still be in your face telling you he thought he told you he wouldn’t stop.

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